Sunday, July 17, 2011

Notes on Iliad 5 (2)

The following guest post by summer workshop participants Amy Koenig and Annalisa Quinn implies an interesting question: is the addition of a line a 'correction' of a scribal error, or evidence of revision resulting from comparison of multiple sources?

Marginalizing Homer: An Anomaly in the Venetus A, Iliad 5

Amy Koenig and Annalisa Quinn

While inventorying and creating a digital edition of pages from the Venetus A, we came across this odd bit of marginalia:

ὤμων μεσσηγὺς δια δὲ στήθεσφιν ἔλασσεν

[NB: the image inserted above is linked to an interactive view of folio 63 recto highlighting this area. Click to see the region in a fuller context.]

What at first glance looked like another scholion appears, upon closer inspection, to be the work of the same pen and hand as the original scribe, supplying a line omitted in the main body of the text (5.57). Slightly smaller than the main text, it spans nearly the entire width of the right margin, not confining itself to the area normally reserved for the main scholia.

The line is written in a minuscule script matching the body of the text, although the scribe employs majuscule forms in writing nu, eta, and one delta.

It is possible that the initial omission of the line was due to scribal error, but we could see no obvious reason for such a slip of the eye. (There are already 25 lines in the body of the text, consistent with the number of lines on other pages of the manuscript.) In fact, this line is omitted in a number of medieval manuscripts, such as the Venetus B, as well as in P.Oxy. 223 (3rd century C.E.). An identical line appears at 5.41, earlier on the same page of the Venetus A, and this may have been a reason for scribal or scholarly uncertainty, leading to its marginal placement here.


  1. Very interesting! Your post seems to suggest that the scribe compared his text as written with that of another manuscript, in which the verse was present. In other words, the scribe faithfully copied his exemplar (hence the "correct" number of 25 verses on the page) but then he compared it with another text, and found verse 5.57 attested there. He then wrote it into the margin of his own text. Would you agree? If so, this is important evidence about how our scribe worked.


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