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The Text of Plautus—its special value for the study of Textual Emendation

There is no Latin author the study of whose text has at once such interest and such value for students of textual emendation as Plautus. For the text of Plautus is on the one hand not nearly so certain as the text of Virgil, of which we have some half-dozen complete or fragmentary MSS. dating from the third to the sixth century, nor on the other so hopelessly uncertain as the text of Propertius, of which no MS. exists that is older than the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It is still full of difficulties, in spite of the labours of a large number of scholars for a large number of years, though each month—I might almost say each week—sees a difficulty removed; and now that we have at last a full collation1 of all the important MSS., we may hope to attain before long to a completely satisfactory text.2 The study of the text of Plautus has thus all the fascination of a problem which has not yet been solved, but which evidently can, and sooner or later must, be solved. Even an untrained student may at any moment by an ingenious conjecture remove a difficulty, and thereby open the way to the resolution of a score of similar problems.

1 In the large Teubner edition by Ritschl's three pupils, Loewe (now dead), Goetz, and Schoell, the last volume of which appeared in 1894. Some additions and corrections will be found in the critical apparatus of the small Teubner text by Goetz and Schoell (Leipzig 1893-6).

2 The text which modern criticism seeks to discover is that of the first edition or, as an ancient edition is generally called, “recension” of Plautus, which is variously referred to the time of Varro by Ritschl, and to the age of Hadrian by Leo (Plautinische Forschungen chap. i).

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