BMCR 2007.04.39

Parola d’autore, parola di copista

, Parola d'autore, parola di copista: usi correttivi ed esercizi di scuola nei codici di Cic. Phil. 1.1-13.10. Minima philologica. Serie latina; 2. Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2004. 280 pages; 21 cm. ISBN 8876947426. €20.00.

This is not the first time that Giuseppina Magnaldi (GM) has published her work on the textual transmission of Cicero’s Philippicae. Many sections of this book were previously published in several articles, as the author herself confirms in the introduction. GM provides us with a particularly technical book, based on solid argumentation of textual criticism theory. The author deals with practical palaeographical issues, which will be useful to scholars studying the manuscript tradition of Cicero. New approaches to this issue — for example, the question of the scribe as author1 — are incorporated with interesting results. Furthermore, GM focuses on specific manuscripts in order to examine them thoroughly in search of the corrections the scribes have made.

The aim of this book is then to reexamine manuscripts, in order to patiently reconstruct —if possible — the scribe’s cultural and psychological traits and habits. This has been accomplished by distinguishing within the manuscripts themselves those features developed by the scribe himself from those inherited from predecessors. With this purpose in mind, GM devotes herself to examining the codices derived from the hypothetical archetype of Philippicae. On the one hand, Codex V (cod. Vaticanus Arch. S. Pietro H 25, sec. ιχ a witness containing traces of emendations by the scribe and rich material in its old marginal notes and emendations, is considered. This manuscript, “codice di codici”, has always challenged scholars. As an example of the consequence of this challenge, GM mentions the 1428 collation made by Poggio Bracciolini in order to emend his own copy from the D family of Cicero’s Philippicae. From then on, the editio princeps (Romae, 1469 or 1470), and the successive editions of the V text with D emendations are enumerated with useful comments about the different criteria of the editors. Family D, corresponding to the variants of the codices recentiores decurtati or mutili is studied. D is not an actual manuscript but a systematization of variants of the decurtati family, where school labor and grammarian’s commentary are clearly interpolated.

Careful register of divergences between modern editors of the text is an important contribution of GM’s analysis in the introductory pages.

The book is divided in three chapters: I Antichi emendamenti nel codice Vaticano Arch. S. Pietro H. 25 (V); II La tradizione indiretta; III Varianti grammaticali nei codices decurtati (D).

GM devotes the first chapter (pp. 23 to 92) to re-grouping ancient emendations on Codex Vaticanus Arch. S. Pietro H.25 (V) according to their diverse forms of execution. Sections of Chapter One contribute to the organization of these forms: rewriting of an erroneous reading in exact form, pp. 23 to 30; corrections with signal-letters, pp. 30 to 34; diplography of erroneous words in exact form, pp. 34 to 42; corrections with signal-words, pp. 42 to 49; corrective abbreviations, pp. 49 to 54; integrations with signal-words followed in scribendo, pp. 54 to 62; integrations with signal-words converged in the text from margin, pp. 62 to 75; signal-words and abbreviations, pp. 75 to 85; integrations with abbreviations alone, pp.85 to 92. A signal-word (parola-segnale) —introduced by the scribe as a mark of error — consists in the rewriting in the correct way the word(s) that had been previously wrongly written, which includes for the sake of clarity the previous or following term. Sometimes the signal-word comes before the erroneous form, and sometimes it comes after the erroneous form. The use of a parola-segnale implies the scribe’s understanding, partial at least, of the context and therefore a fairly modest knowledge of the Latin language. But in most cases it is confirmed that the littera falsa and emendata seem to have been simply maintained, without any sign which would show a corrective intervention of the scribe. In these cases GM concludes that the scribe copied the precedent corrections from an antigraph which didn’t have diacritic signs.

GM asserts (p.22) that her method determines that the collatio between V and D finishes exactly where the V tradition finishes (that is to say, at 13.10), as in fact one can read in the subtitle of the book. But GM includes among various examples the analysis of 13.24 and 14.4, from the D family, not included in V. This modification in rules previously established for the V and D collation allows the reader to find the decisive evidence that in D too the signal-word detected only in V is used. In this sense, it is probable that the device refers to the archetype of both branches of the tradition (VD).

On pages 23-24 GM reaches the conclusion that the scribe was so extremely conscious and meticulous about his exemplar that he might have copied everything that was in his model, including duplices lectiones because he was not able to deal with changing places of lectiones which were not in the antigraph or to make the decision of modifying what was at his sight. GM concludes that the V scribe did not know Latin.

On the other hand, when V is collated with the codices decurtati of D it is necessary to go back to the (VD) archetype. This hypothetical manuscript is postulated by innumerable conjunctive errors. Going back to the VD archetype is useful to understand a lot of pairs of false and erroneous readings. In D the presence of the pairs of preserved intact words is much less frequent than in V; but those demonstrate the same origin as manuscript V. When manuscript D conveys only a correct lectio that corresponds to a duplex lectio in manuscript V, it is suspected that D also received it from the archetype. But the uiri docti of branch D of the tradition might have distinguished between error and correction, eliminating the error.

In Chapter Two GM deals with the indirect tradition and its function in the constitutio textus despite the innumerable transformations of the text made by the viri docti from imperial through medieval times. Sections of this chapter present a systematization of the changes these men have made into their citations of Philippicae, as substitutions with synonyms,2 transpositions, omissions, marginal notes, alternative constructions, paraphrases, changes in the verb tense conjugation, noun endings, conjunctions, etc. In some cases indirect tradition provides the unique authentic lesson. GM detects also a consensus between indirect tradition and V tradition, confronted with D’s in cases where indirect tradition is decisive to differentiate adiaphoric variants. The same can be demonstrated regarding the consensus in some cases between the indirect tradition and the decurtati.

The third chapter deals with grammatical variants in codices decurtati (D). In opposition to other editors as Halm, Clark and Fedeli, GM proposes a useful key to evaluate the particular nature of D variants: it is possible to classify almost all of them according to parts of speech and late-antique commentary. These variants are subdivided into: aggiunta di frasi (pp. 135 to 146), aggiunta di parole (pp. 146 to 177), explicitazione di termini sottintesi (interpolations) (pp. 177 to 199), locuzioni alternative (pp.199 to 208), parole sostitutive (pp. 208 to 226), esercizi di grammatica (pp. 226 to 254) and finally, trasposizioni (pp. 254 to 267).

A deep and detailed knowledge of the grammarians’ interventions with their commentaries in the D family allows GM to develop a coherent discussion based on examples, in support of or disagreement with the above-mentioned modern editors and their respective texts and critical apparatuses. This methodology practically transforms the book of GM into a new collation not only of the manuscripts of both branches but of the modern editions.

GM’s book finishes with a bibliography subdivided into editions of the Philippicae, other editions related to indirect tradition, studies, and a brief list of collated manuscripts. The “Indice dei passi discussi” registers 121 passages from the Philippicae considered, most at length, in the course of the volume.

The book contains an interesting selection of codex images — though they are not of high resolution — between pp. 42/43; 46/47; 76/77; 80/81. These photos correspond to manuscript examples of the observations made in the different forms the text has been passed on. These reproductions contribute to the understanding of some key concepts.

GM’s work provides intelligent research on the manuscript tradition of Cicero’s Philippicae; she offers many relevant observations in a detailed study of manuscripts. The central focus of the book is to study the consciousness of the scribe’s responsibility as an auctor. It means a new approach to solving the difficulties in the transmission of a Latin text through the different moments of its tradition. It is desirable that each edition of an ancient text would mean new contributions to support or abandon variants of the tradition. In some cases GM’s book reveals different justifications in decisions made by modern editors. In this sense, the book of GM is a source of surprises. For a reader experienced in the text of the Philippicae, GM’s detailed analysis and review of the codices and editions represents an important contribution to the text and to the history of its transmission.3


1. This is an issue already studied by Luciano Canfora [(2002) Il copista come autore, Palermo].

2. For example, Nonius 222.14 and 299.9-10 uses regressionis instead of reuersionis VD.

3. I would like to thank Paula Meiss and Patricia Salzman for helping me improve my English.