Saturday, August 27, 2011

υπ Mystery Scholion (Stephanie Lindeborg guest post)

by Stephanie Lindeborg, College of the Holy Cross Class of 2013, Homer Multitext Research Fellow summer 2011.

On 15r of the Venetus A, next to line 1.169 the scribe wrote two letters: υπ with the π written above the υ. It is one of the interior scholia. Although another interior scholion is located almost immediately below it, the two do not appear connected in any way. The letters appear to be written in the same hand as the other interior scholia, but are somewhat larger than normal. This writing is captured in neither Dindorf's nor Erbse's edition of the scholia.

We read this abbreviation as υπ instead of πυ for two reasons. First, this is the order in which abbreviations are typically read in the Venetus A (i.e. the superlinear letter(s) after the letter(s) in the line). Second, υπ looks very much like the ὑπό abbreviations we have observed in the scholia text. Our first guess is that υπ is an abbreviation of ὑπό, but is it more than just ὑπό? Perhaps something like ὑπόθεσις or ὑποθέτικος? Or are these guesses the entirely wrong direction to take? We know that there are other scholia commenting on this line. A main scholion talks about hyperbaton in lines 1.169-171. Is υπ an abbreviation for ὑπερβατόν, glossing the general idea of the main scholion?

A decent argument can be made for ὑπερβατόν simply because it is the focus of the main scholion on this line. However, if that is the focus of the main scholion, then why is it necessary to refer to it in another abbreviated interior scholion? While it is true that sometimes one scholion will continue or refer back to the idea of another scholion, this conjecture seems too unclear to be certain.

Based on what we have observed of the abbreviations, it is quite likely and reasonable to suggest that the mark is more along the lines of ὑπό. The question is whether it should be further expanded or not. If it is just ὑπό, the meaning is not particularly clear as the word has a variety of meanings. As an adverb (which is the most likely use as it is unaccompanied by any other word), it can mean under, below, beneath, behind, somewhat, and secretly (among other things). None of these meanings, however, seem to make any sense in context of the lines and the other scholia on this line.

Therefore, it seems likely that if we're on the right track with ὑπό, then it needs to be further expanded. Our possible suggestions are not entirely exhaustive, but we can guess based on our general knowledge of the scholia and ancient Greek scholarship thus far. In prior scholia, we have observed ὑπὸ abbreviations like this one. In the first Venetus A scholia on 12r there is in fact a ὑπὸ abbreviation that is part of the larger word ὑπόθεσις. The "ὑπὸ" is written out exactly like the abbreviation we find on 15r, followed by the rest of the word "-θεσις". ὑποθεσις, can mean a variety of things including proposed action, intention, suggestion, purpose, pretext, assumption, cause, etc. ὑπόθεσις is a tempting solution to our predicament. The 12r scholion discusses mainly why the first line of Iliad begins with μῆνιν. ὑπόθεσις is used here to mean "cause," saying that the poem begins with μῆνις because it becomes the cause of actions (ἤρξατο μὲν ἀπὸ μήνιδος ἐπείπερ αὕτη τοῖς πρακτικοῖς ὑπόθεσις γέγονεν·). 1.169 and the lines both preceding and following it are part of Achilles' speech/reprimand of Agamemnon for his poor behavior and treatment of his comrades. 1.169 itself begins Achilles' threat to leave the war and return home rather than continue to acquire riches for Agamemnon. It is possible then that υπ scholion on 15r is referring back to the ideas of the first scholion on 12r, namely that μῆνις is causing the action, driving the plot, and at this particular moment in line 1.169, we see this happening. If it is too much to assume that these two scholia are connected so closely, then we might suppose that υπ is still ὑπόθεσις, but is generally noting that line 1.169 establishes the circumstances around which the plot is to move forward. The word ὑπόθεσις could also refer to a plot summary of classical dramas. These were frequently copied as a prefaces in Medieval manuscripts. This idea fits at least loosely within the context of the lines.

If instead we are expanding to ὑποθέτικος, meaning hypothetical or conditional, it fits the context of the lines in a different way. Here perhaps the scholia is indicating that Achilles' claim is hypothetical or conditional. Achilles does not actually leave for home. His threat is not acted upon. There is an element of condition to his claim that he would rather go home than serve Agamemnon. His continued participation in the war is conditional based on Agamemnon's behavior.

Another possibility is that υπ is supposed to offer a multiform replacement in the line. Line 1.169 of the Venetus A reads:

νῦν δ᾽ εἶμι Φθίην δ᾽· ἐπειὴ πολὺ φέρτερόν ἐστιν

A possible substitution could be ὑπέρτερον instead of φέρτερον. If so the line would read:

νῦν δ‘ εἶμι Φθίην δ’· ἐπειὴ πολὺ ὑπέρτερόν ἐστιν

In terms of meaning there is little variation in how we read the text. φέτερον means "better" and ὑπέρτερον can also mean "better", as we can see in several other occurrences of the word in the Iliad. For example, in 11.786 ὑπέρτερον is used to describe Achilles as a greater, more noble man. There are problems with this alternate reading. First, ὑπέρτερον for φέρτερον in this line, without any additional changes renders it unmetrical. Second, alternate readings are often presented either superlinear to the main Iliadic text or in the exterior margin. This theory, by that reasoning then, seems highly unlikely.

My personal preference is to expand this abbreviation as ὑπόθεσις. It makes sense based on other ὑπὸ abbreviations we have observed and the context of the lines. It does not fit the context of the other scholia that comment on this line. However, as ὑποθέσις, it serves almost like a gloss of the 1.169 and the lines that follow as well as a reminder of the first scholion and the role of μῆνις.