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Scholia on the
Argonautica

The scholia on the Argonautica are generally known as the Florentine and the Parisian. The Florentine scholia are those first published by Ioannes Lascaris, who supervised the Editio Princeps of the poem at Florence in 1496 a.d. For the next three centuries editors simply republished the scholia as given by him. Then Ruhnken discovered scholia in Codex Parisinus 2727, of the fifteenth century, which seemed to him better than those previously known. These new scholia were published along with the old by Schaefer in his revision of Brunck's edition in 1813. The relative value of the two sets of scholia was long a moot point, but Keil has shown that they are both to be referred to a common source, namely the scholia contained in Codex Laurentianus xxxii, 9. From it 'addendo, detrahendo, immutando,' the different copies of scholia were derived. There is only one ms., Parisinus 2846, containing part of the scholia on the first and fourth books, in which the Laurentian version is completely followed. In discussing the relation between the Florentine and Parisian scholia Keil points out that the Florentine reproduce the form of the archetype more accurately than the Parisian, yet in several cases the Parisian preserve what had been carelessly omitted or rashly altered in the Florentine. However, there is such unanimity between them in many cases where they both depart from their common source, that it it is plain that both recensions were derived, not from the archetype itself directly, but through the medium of a more recent source which itself was derived from the archetype.

The additions made to the original stock preserved in the Laurentian archetype consist of grammatical notes on forms and structures, statements of the poet's purpose, quotations of parallel passages from ancient writers, and conjectures as to the derivations of words. Keil, who edited the scholia in Merkel's edition, reproduces them as they are found in the Codex Laurentianus (with the exception of a few obvious interpolations of recent date), distinguishing them according as they are written on the outer margin of the ms., or between the lines, or on the inner margin as the glosses on individual words and the shorter explanations generally are. He also notes all important variations from the archetype in the Florentine and Parisian scholia. He concludes that the scholia in L were written by the same hand as the text and the lives which are appended. Wellauer combines both the Florentine and Parisian scholia, which renders his edition in some ways the most convenient for consulting, as one can see at a glance how much was common to the two. Though, as we have said, the Parisian scholia often supply what is omitted in the Florentine, yet, on the whole, they are less full and less reliable. The corruptions in the Parisian are greater, especially in proper names, while they omit the names of the authorities for certain interpretations which are preserved in the Florentine. Often the two sets of scholia agree almost verbally, except that what is stated directly in the Florentine is introduced by λέγει or φησί in the Parisian.

An interesting feature in the Florentine scholia is that in four places (i 543, 725, 788, 801) they have recorded the readings of the προέκδοσις or earlier edition (v. App. I) where they are omitted in the Parisian. In two places only (i 285, 515) do the Parisian mention the differences in the προέκδοσις noticed in the Florentine.

The scholia which have come down to us are probably merely extracts compiled from the fuller works of grammarians and commentators. The names of the three principal commentators known to us are Lucillus, Sophocles, and Theon. The three are mentioned at the end of the scholia on the fourth book,1 and are also referred to by the Scholiast on Aristophanes, Nub. 397, who, commenting on the word βεκκεσέληνε, quotes Arg. iv 264, and gives the explanation which is found in our scholia, prefaced by the words τοῦτο δὲ τοὖπος οἱ περὶ τὸν Λούκιλλον τὸν Ταρραῖον καὶ Σοφόκλειον̣καὶ Θέωνα ἑρμηνεύοντες τάδε φασίν.

Lucillus was a native of Tarrha in Crete, and in our schol. is called simply Ταρραῖος. Sophocles is twice mentioned as a commentator on Apollonius by Steph. Byz. (s.v. Ἄβαρνος and Κάναστρον). It is not possible to identify Theon with certainty. In all probability he was the Alexandrian sophist and rhetorician Aelius Theon, to whom the scholia on Aratus are attributed, and who wrote, as Suidas tells us, commentaries on Xenophon, Isocrates, and Demosthenes. Theon is not mentioned by name in our scholia, and Sophocles only once. Stender2 tries to separate the part of the scholia due to Theon and Sophocles, but the scanty evidence on which he works renders his conclusions at best only remotely probable.

We learn from our scholia the names of two other commentators on the works of Apollonius, Chares and Irenaeus. Chares (or Charon) was probably the historian of Naucratis mentioned by Suidas. In the schol. on ii 1054 we find Οὕτω (sc. πλωίδας) δὲ αὐτὰς ὀνομάζει καὶ Σέλευκος ἐν Συμμίκτοις καὶ Χάρης, αὐτοῦ τοῦ Ἀπολλωνίου γνώριμος, ἐν τῷ περὶ ἱστοριῶν τοῦ Ἀπολλωνίου. The title ἱστορίαι would seem to refer to the Κτίσεις, the lost work of our poet, not to the Argonautica. Irenaeus is mentioned in the schol. on λαῖτμα (i 1299), Σιληνὸς δὲ ἐν Γλώσσαις πέλαγος εἶναι, καὶ Εἰρηναῖος ἐν πρώτῳ Ἀπολλωνίου (i.e. in his commentary on Bk. i of the Argonautica) ἀποδεδώκασιν. Again, in the schol. on ἐπιπαμφαλόωντες (ii 127), we find παραιτητέον δὲ Εἰρηναιο̂ν ἀμφανόωντες γράφοντα καὶ ἐξηγούμενον κτείνοντες. οὔτε γὰρ κέχρηταί τις οὕτως τῇ λέξει, οὔτε ἐστὶν ἁπαξαπλῶς γραφὴ τοῦ ποιητοῦ. Irenaeus was also known under the Latin name of Minucius Pacatus, and lived about the age of Augustus. Suidas enumerates several works of his dealing with the Alexandrian and Attic dialects.

Merkel would also include Methodius among the first Scholiasts on Apollonius. He was the principal redactor of the Et. Mag. Merkel's argument is based on the fact that the frequent citations of the scholia on the Argonautica in the Et. Mag.3 differ considerably from those we know, and point to a recension anterior to that of the Laurentian ms., and so he regards Methodius either as being one of the first Scholiasts on Apollonius, or else as reproducing more faithfully than the compiler of the Laurentian the tradition of the older Scholiasts on the Argonautica.

In the commentary I have generally cited the Laurentian scholia as given by Keil, employing the others whenever they served to throw light on the dark places of the poem. They are often a confused medley, but still they abound with indispensable information, which would have been lost to us without their aid. Like most scholia they furnish us with the most desperate etymologies, e.g. i 292, κινύρετο: ἐθρήνει. κυρίωςἐπὶ βοός, παρὰ τὸ κινεῖν τὴν οὐρὰν ἐν τῷ μυκᾶσθαι: i 401, οἰήια: τὰ πηδάλια, οἷον οἰήσια, ἐπειδὴ οἰήσεως χρεία τῷ κυβερνήτῃ. Defects of this kind are, however, of minor importance, and we may regard ourselves as fortunate in possessing a mass of scholia as valuable as those which have come down to us on any ancient author. To the industry of our Scholiasts we owe the preservation of many lines of Hesiod and other poets which would otherwise have perished, as well as many curious and interesting fragments of old Greek writers on history, geography, and mythology.


1 παράκειται τὰ σχόλια ἐκ τῶν Λουκίλλου Ταρραίου καὶ Σοφοκλέους καὶ Θέωνος.

2 De Argonautarum ad Colchos usque expeditione fabulae historic critica.

3 v. Berckmann, De scholiis in Ap. Rh. Arg. Etymologici Magni fonte.

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  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Aristophanes, Clouds, 397
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