previous next

Several copyists

That the archetype was the work of more than one copyist1 may be proved, if proof be necessary, by the fact that the scribe of B leaves a blank space of four lines after Merc. 961, this line in the archetype being presumably the last line of the task of one of the copyists, who failed to cover completely the whole quaternion. The writing of two verses in the same line throughout a previous passage of the play (vv. 236-249) points to a scribe, either of the archetype itself or of its original, having been pressed for space at the end of his task. The numerous contractions of final syllables in the Miles and Truculentus--contractions which have caused great difficulty to the scribes of B, C, and D (e.g. Truc. 349 confutaverim edd., confutaverunt B, confutaver CD with line above r; Mil. 543 demum A, dem C D1, idem B1)--are probably the result of copyists having had to force an inconveniently large number of lines into the vellum allotted to them.

1 To determine where one copyist of an archetype ended and where another began, is seldom possible. Where it is possible, it is certainly worth doing; so great a difference of quality often exists between the work of one copyist and the work of another. The B-copyists of Most., Men. 1-381, of Men. 381-fin., Mil., Merc. 1-1013 are as bad as the copyists of the following plays are good. Their mistakes have fortunately been effaced by a corrector up to the middle of the Miles. But for the uncorrected portion, including the last half of the Miles and nearly the whole of the Mercator, the testimony of B is of very small repute--a fact not always realised by editors of Plautus. The deplorable state of the Truculentus-text in the archetype may be partly due to similar causes, either to the intervention of a new copyist, or the absence of a corrector, or both.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: