Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Aural Confusion in the Venetus A Scholia?

A guest post by Michiel Cock (Leiden University), Dillon Gisch (University of Washington 2012), and Christopher Rivera (University of Houston 2013)

In this post, participants from the 2013 Homer Multitext Summer Seminar discuss a scholion in the Venetus A that provides evidence for an oral component to the writing of the scholia in this manuscript. In the ancient world and well into the middle ages, it was customary to read out loud and silent reading was almost nonexistent. (See, e.g., Svenbro's Phrasikleia: An Anthropology of Reading in Ancient Greece and Manguel's A History of Reading. Manguel adduces among others a passage in Augustine, Confessions VI.3, in which Augustine expresses amazement at Bishop Ambrose's ability to read silently.) Many scholars argue that early scriptoriums employed dictation, which allowed multiple copies to be made at once. Even after scribes began to work alone in monasteries, it seems to have been typical practice for scribes to actually read out loud to themselves as they were copying. (Manguel [p. 50] quotes an anonymous eight-century scribe, who concludes his copying this way: "No one can know what efforts are demanded. Three fingers write, two eyes see. One tongue speaks, the entire body labours.") At some point in the middle ages, silence was enforced in scriptoriums and scribes were not allowed to read aloud. Nevertheless, and oral component to the copying likely remained, in that the scribes may have read silently, but still pronounced the words in theirs heads as they copied in a kind of "interior dictation" (on which see van Groningen, Traité d’Histoire et de critique des textes Grecs [Verhandelingen der Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, afd. Letterkunde N.S. LXX-2, Amsterdam, 1963] p. 86).

What the seminar participants found in the course of editing the scholia of book 10 of the Iliad reveals that the creation of the Venetus A in the tenth century CE, whether or not it predates the transition to silence in the scriptorium, involved a kind of orality on the part of the scribe. For another kind of orality preserved in the Venetus A, see Mitchell's 2006 Stanford dissertation, The Aural Iliad: Alexandrian Performances of an Archaic Text, which, among other topics related to reading aloud in antiquity, explores the performative aspect of many ancient scholia and their lemmata. (- Casey Dué)

On folio 128v of the Venetus A manuscript of the Iliad we find the following scholion:
It comments on Iliad 10.141-142:
In this scholion there are three features that point to aural confusion, which presupposes the practice of dictation or reading aloud in the scriptorium.

First, the lemma of the scholion is not identical to the main text. Where the main text reads “ὅ τι δὴ χρειὼ τόσον ἵ̈̄κει”, the lemma of the scholion reads “έτι δὴ χρειῶ τόσον ἵκοι”. This interchange of -οι for -ει in the final word of the lemma can be accounted for by iotacism; both endings would have sounded the same. The text of the lemma can’t be a multiform because as an optative (expressing a wish), the context of this passage would not make sense. The end of the lemma “χρειῶ τόσον ἵκοι” is attested elsewhere in Homer, in Odyssey 5.189, and this may have contributed to the confusion. In the body text of the scholion, however, it reads “δὴ χρειῶ τόσον ἵ̈κει”.

The scholion addresses the use of ὅ τι as an interrogative instead of τί, and therefore we we expect to find  a “τί” in the explanation. Dindorf therefore rightly adds “τί” before “δή” in his edition of the scholia. The omission of τί can be attributed to haplography, as the vowels in τί and δή would also have sounded the same.

In the second half of the first sentence of the scholion we read “ὁπποίης δὲ Πηνειὸς”. In the word Πηνειὸς the first four letters “Πηνε” seem to have been written in a different ink, indicating that the scribe has made a correction. The phrase as corrected is problematic, however, because according to the scholion it is a quotation from Homer and no such phrase is attested. We do find “ὁπποίης τ’ ἐπὶ νηὸς” in Odyssey 1.171 and 14.188. As in the previous two cases, the confusion manifested here can also be accounted for with iotacism.

[Note: This post has been edited since it was first posted, in order to take in to account some very helpful commends made by Ineke Sluiter. Stay tuned for future posts by the students that will explore the implications of the preliminary observations made here in more detail. - CD]

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