Monday, June 23, 2014

The scribal process of handling “forgotten” lines in two manuscripts of the Iliad: Escorial Upsilon 1.1 and Venetus A

A guest post by Holy Cross undergraduate research teams: Debbie Sokolowski ’14 and Drew Virtue ’17; Becky Musgrave ’14 and Chris Ryan ’16

Often when the Homer Multitext team edits manuscripts throughout the year we encounter irregularities in the way the folios are laid out. One case of this is the way scribes deal with lines of the Iliad that they either forgot or decided not to include within the main text. Debbie Sokolowski and Drew Virtue discovered one example of this in their editing of book 22 in Venetus A this year, on folio 286 verso. The lines are Iliad 22.210–22.213:

ἐν δ’ ἐτίθει δύο κῆρε τανηλεγέος θανάτοιο.
τὴν μὲν Ἀχιλλῆος. τὴν δ᾽ Ἕκτορος ἱπποδάμοιο·
ἕλκε δὲ μέσσα λαβών. ῥέπε δ᾽ Ἕκτορος αἴσιμον ἦμαρ·
ᾤχετο δ᾽ εἰς Ἀΐδαο· λίπεν δέ ἑ Φοῖβος Ἀπόλλων·  

On 286 verso, we encountered an instance in which the scribe seems to have accidentally omitted a line of the text and later inserted it. At the top of the folio, above two scholia, is the omitted line (212): ἕλκε δὲ μέσσα λαβών. ῥέπε δ᾽ Ἕκτορος αἴσιμον ἦμαρ·
This omitted line is identified with a β in the margin. In the main text lines 211 and 213 are marked with an α and γ, respectively, signaling to the reader that the lines should read in the order of α, β, γ. This omission can reveal many important insights about the scribe’s process in composing the Venetus A. We know that the scribe normally writes 25 lines of the poem on each folio. Including the omitted line, folio 286 verso still follows this rule. Therefore, we can conclude that the scribe did not mean to include this line as an alternate or optional line, but that it was intended to be read as a part of the main text. This also raises several questions about the scribe’s transcription and editing process. When did the scribe catch his mistake? Is he copying from a manuscript which is consistent with his 25-line per folio rule? Or is he transcribing from a long, continuous manuscript and counting his lines?

Chris Ryan and Becky Musgrave encountered a similar problem in the Escorial Upsilon 1.1 in editing book 10 throughout this year, yet the scribe handled it in a different manner. Whereas the scribe of Venetus A decided to deal with this problem by marking lines α, β, γ, the scribe of Upsilon 1.1 put an asterisk at the end of the line that the missing line comes after, and then writes the line elsewhere on the folio with the word “stichoi” (“lines”) in front of it to let the reader know that it is part of the main text of the Iliad and not a scholion. 
The first time we encountered this in Book 10 was on folio 126r, line 85: φθέγγεο· μὴδ᾽ ἀκεων ἐπ᾽ ἐ[page cuts off] ρχεο· τίπτε δέ σε χρεώ. 

The line reads in the Venetus B: φθέγγεο· μὴδ᾽ ἀκεων ἐπ᾽ ἐμ᾽ ἔρχεο· τίπτε δέ σε χρεώ.  We can tell that this line is not part of the scholia because the scribe actually puts a scholion marker within the line, and its corresponding scholion beneath it. The ink that the line is written in is also the same shade as the lines of the Iliad and darker than that of the main text of the scholia, so the scribe must have either purposely put the line out in the margin, or realized his mistake while he was writing the main text. The scribe typically puts 24 lines of Iliadic text on each folio, and each folio that contains a “stichoi” line only contains 23 lines in the main text (that is, 24 with the extra line counted). 
The Venetus B has often been considered a “twin” manuscript of the Upsilon 1.1, since they almost always contain the same lines on each page and have very similar scholia, so whenever we encounter something unexepected in our editing of the Upsilon 1.1, we turn to the Venetus B for comparison. One reason that we are led to believe that these are cases of the scribe correcting his mistake and not an intentional editorial omission is by comparing the folio, to the corresponding folio 131r of the Venetus B. In the Venetus B, the line is written within the main text with no special treatment, which leads us to believe that the scribe of the Upsilon 1.1 placed this line in the margin simply because he made an error in the scribal process.
Editorial note: the undergraduate researchers at the Homer Multitext seminar happening right now at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC will also be further investigating the question of “forgotten” lines, with a focus on Iliad 12 in the Venetus A. So stay tuned for more!

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